Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Several opposition MDC-Alliance legislators are holders of diplomatic passports issued by Government, allowing them to enjoy various advantages that include easy passage at borders, special lines at customs, tax exemptions, travel upgrades on airlines and hotels, free visas to any country and in some cases, visa-free travel.
This, The Herald has learnt, amid grandstanding by the party’s secretary-general Mr Chalton Hwende who last week said his party would decline the privileged document.
Mr Hwende himself holds the red passport.
The chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cde Kindness Paradza, who announced in Parliament last week that President Mnangagwa had agreed that all parliamentarians be issued with diplomatic passports, yesterday revealed that Mr Hwende and several other members of his party already had diplomatic passport, despite the noise he is making.
“To begin with, Hwende is denouncing the issuance of diplomatic passports to his fellow MPs yet he is a holder of one which he was issued with by the same President, President Mnangagwa. He was just grandstanding, but as we speak, there is a stampede from members from his party to get the document.
“There are several MPs from the MDC including him that already have diplomatic passports,” Cde Paradza said.
Contacted for comment, Mr Hwende all but confirmed that he was a holder of such a passport.
“That is neither here nor there (whether he has a diplomatic passport or not). When I speak, I speak on behalf of the party and my statement was that the priority should be on issuance of ordinary green passports because there are people who are genuinely in need of those passports.
“So whatever foreign currency we have it should go towards printing of those ordinary passports,” he said.
Some of the other legislators who already have the document are Tendai Biti, Prosper Mutseyami (MDC Chief Whip), Paurina Mpariwa, Daniel Molekele, Concilia Chinanzvavana, Prince Dubeko Sibanda, Anele Ndebele, Willas Madzimure, Guebuza Guebuza, Zwizwai Murisi, Tapiwa Mashakada and Jasmine Tofa.
The decision by the President follows requests by legislators on several occasions in past parliamentary sessions for them to be issued with the document.